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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan unity government tries to take control of key institutions

By Ken Hanly     Apr 4, 2016 in Politics
Tripoli - The UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) is trying to gain control of key institutions such as the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) and the National Oil Company (NOC).
The Presidency Council (PC) of the GNA led by PM Faiez Serraj has issued Decree number 7 that freezes all state bank accounts with the exception of state salaries. This will cripple the operations of the rival, until now internationally recognized, House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk. I imagine the freeze also includes administrative accounts of the rival General National Council (GNC) based in Tripoli as well. The decree came after the PC met with officials of the CBL the Audit Bureau and major banks. The head of the CBL has promised to cooperate with the PC. At the meeting at the naval base just outside of Tripoli, the PC discussed ways to deal with the cash shortage facing Libyans.
Another decree, number six, created a finance committee headed by one of the PC members. The committee will oversee financial affairs until there are ministers of finance, economy and planning that are approved by the HoR. This move is of questionable legality and simply is a way of getting around the requirement that there be ministers approved by the HoR.
The HoR, which is the legislature of the GNA, has not even recognized the GNA as yet. Even so, the GNA is carrying on as if it already exists and is in operation. The UN and most of the international community applaud as if everything is fine, given that the GNA is gaining support in many quarters in Libya. However, all of a sudden when Cyrenaica threatens to separate, the HoR formal vote gains importance again.
However, there was no quorum again for today, the sixth time. Kobler has not reached a deal yet. If a deal is made to keep General Haftar as commander in chief of the LNA, as Hafar supporters demand this will probably cause the GNA to implode. Islamists and many other opponents of Haftar will jump ship. The Libya Herald article notes the questionable legality of what has happened: So while Serraj and his PC may be operating in a legal vacuum, it will be interesting to see if the two decrees by the PC will have any effect in Tripoli, a city and its ministries and state institutions until last week controlled by the internationally unrecognized Tripoli administration.This will be the first major test of the effectiveness and enforceability of the Serraj-led government. If it succeeds in controlling the purse strings of Libya and its oil revenue, it will become the de facto government of Libya – irrespective of all the de jure nuances.
has issued a statement recognizing the GNA and PM Faiez Serraj. The statement said that it recognized a new era that would hopefully end divisions, stop fighting, and "empower the judicial system and to embrace the rule of law." It also called for the resumption of the production of oil and gas.The CBL denies that it is responsible for the cash shortage. It blames the shortage on Libyan businessmen who are hoarding their cash and not investing it in banks. It claims there is 24 billion Libyan dinars outside the system and that if just 10 percent of that amount were deposited the crisis would be solved.
The National Oil Corporation (NOC) also recognizes the GNA. Ibrahim Jodhran the head of the Petroleum Forces Guards (PFG) has agreed to cooperate with the GNA and open up the oil ports again. Jodhran is an opponent of Haftar. A recent meeting in Marj gave support to president of the HoR Ageela Saleh, and his rejection of the GNA until a formal vote is held. Some members of the PFG apparently will follow orders only from Haftar. There could be conflict between the Jodhran and Haftar.
Omar Aswad one of two of nine Presidential Council who are boycotting meetings called upon HoR members to meet to pass a constitutional amendment and approve the GNA. Aswad describes how the meeting should be: A plenary meeting (of the HoR) must be held, broadcast live, to enhance its transparency and observed by civil society organizations and interested parties. And on the other hand, the attendance of the full Presidential Council before the HoR and the presentation of the biographies/CVs of the members of the Government of National Accord (GNA) to win confidence and to ensure that the GNA operates away from any pressure or blackmail’’. Aswad has nothing to say about the demand that Haftar stay on as a condition for approving the GNA..
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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